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Travelling in Sudan without guidebook- any recommendations?
We are on a road trip from London to Cape Town in a landcruiser, currently in Turkey. I've just realized none of our guidebooks cover Sudan! Just wondering whether it is worth trying to find one in Egypt or whether we should just wing it. We don't have any fixed plans but are keen to go on the Nile route to Dongala, then not sure which way to go to to Khartoum. Keen to head out to Kassala as well. Any tips or route recommendations would be great. We were planning on bush camping most of the way if possible, except Wadi Hafa and Khartoum. I've heard the Nile sailing club has gone downhill, where is a good place to stay in Khartoum?
If anyone is heading north and wants to trade/sell their sudan guidebook then let me know!!
It is worthwhile taking a detour from Dongola to Merrowe to see the pyramids there, you can camp right next to them as well then on to Atbara. It is ok to camp just outside of Wadi Halfa if you want, we did for three days waiting for the ferry, no problem. Loads of bush camping in Sudan, you are rarely far from a quiet spot and the Blue Nile sailing club is rather grubby but still a nice spot with Kitchener's gunboat and the Nile of course as a backdrop, there is at least one other campsite in Khartoum used by travellers but I forget where it is. I think you will manage alright without a guide book.
I'd agree with Mark, pretty easy to get by with no guidebook in Sudan. It's not very touristy, so as you can imagine it wouldn't tell you much anyway. Fellow overlander info is best, I assume you are using Tracks for Africa and that will suggest some great camping spots and point out the obvious places like the Blue Nile. Happy travels.
Bush camping is pretty good in Sudan. Not even the need to find a quiet spot. If you camp close to a village local people will come along with tea and food, or invite you to camp in their 'garden'. One aspect of that though is that an early start in the morning will be difficult. Locals will want to show you their homes and friends before you get on the road.
The Sailing Club is grubby as Mark says. But has other advantages. It's a lively evening social club for the locals, and very interesting to 'people watch' in the evenings. And an excellent way of meeting those locals.
To the extent that after my daughter, son-in-law and I stayed there for 3 weeks last year, (en route to Cape Town) the two of them are now living and working in Khartoum. Completely unexpected, through a chance encounter at the Sailing Club. Renting an apartment from one of the members.
Will be OK without a guide book I think, but if you decide to buy one, the American Bookshop in Cairo has a wide range of English-language guide books, Lonely Planet and stuff.
Off hand, maybe the only thing you might miss by not having a guide book, is knowing that taking photos near rivers, bridges and government buildings is very much frowned upon unless you have the right permit (obtainable in Khartoum). And along most of the route, you'll be close to either a river, bridges, or government buildings. And Khartoum is almost entirely comprised of all three!
If you go through Luxor, and can find the Oasis hotel, I left a Bradt Sudan guide (1st ed.) there. Tell the manager that the American on the motorcycle sent you. Assuming it hasn't been snatched up already! It was there 3 days ago when I left.
From Wadi Halfa, the desert route to Khartoum is nice as well - you follow the railway track for a few hundred Km's through the desert till you get to some tar and branch of to the city.Lots of sand and wide open vistas. V good bush camping, but no pyramids etc.
Blue Nile was nothing short of a shite hole when I was there (it's just a car park for a dodgy bar, but it is worth having a look at Gen Gordons boat), and they took the mickey with the charges so I drove off to the edge of the city and slept in the car instead, but couldn't say I'd recommend doing that.
Apart from that, just follow your nose, people and the authorities are very freindly and you should have a really good time.
There was a nice old colonial style hotel in Wadi Medani after Khartoum that we liked - Blue Nile hotel I think it was called
Sudan is very easy to travel. There are very few obvious good roads so it's difficult to get lost.
Like said though, there is little tourism so places to stay are rather few. The added bonus is that you can wild camp almost anywhere between towns. Theres plenty of places completely devoid of people and leads to some fantastic star gazing nights in the desert..
Once in Khartoom, bypass the Blue Nile sailing club as it's a complete DUMP..
Try and find "Farbest autos" in the centre. He is an overlander, owns a garage/wokshop and is well connected in town. He will probably sort an appartment for you and take you to dinner.
I'll try and get teh GPS co-ordinates of his place for you.. WELL worth a stop. Especially if you have repairs to do etc.
Am also aquainted with Abd El Salaam, and can confirm that he is an overland enthusiast, car nut and gentleman of the highest order who can obtain or find anything within the city of Khartoum and probably beyond!
Wow guys, you are all awesome!!! Some great advice there! Thanks Sean and twoupfront for the guidebook heads-up. Sean, we'll be heading through Luxor in a few weeks so will
Track down the Oasis Hotel and see if it is still there!!
That's great to have the contact deets for Abd el Salaam. Will definitely look him up.
I got my guidebook to Sudan directly in Khartoum. The UK publisher of the Trail guide to North & South Sudan has an office there. I did contact them and bought my copy there. It was handy and easy!
The number of the Trail Publishing in Sudan is
00249 (0) 912250025
I write it here because i noticed that it isnt on their website and I had to contact them to have it.
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